The biggest mistake that caregivers make, myself included, is that we do not take care of ourselves. This is one of the reason why I wanted to start a blog/website. As a caregiver, you get so wrapped up in caring for someone else that you completely forget about YOU. Most parents can related since they tend to do this with their children. But it’s different. It is. and I know since I’m both; a parent and a caregiver. I’m trying to figure out the best and obviously most eloquent way to explain it and I just can’t. So instead I’m just going to try to spit it out in a way that gets my point across.
Being a parent is tough. It’s really hard! there is no manual that comes with your kid (I asked… yes, I did) and even if there was, the kids change things on you so quickly that you wouldn’t be able to keep up! but with your kids, it changes over time. As they age, they become more independent, more sure of themselves, more self sufficient. And as I write that, I realize THAT’S what it is all about…. as a caregiver, the person that you’re caring for doesn’t do most of those things. They do NOT become more independent or more self sufficient but most times, just opposite. In my case, my husband has become slightly more independent than when he was injured. Okay, wait, to his credit, he’s become A TON more independent since his injury but not in the sense that most people think. He has no problem being at home by himself for long periods of time (and let’s face it, enjoys the quiet time away from me!). He works just fine at his full time position AT the company’s home office. and he participates in our marriage again the way he did before he was injured. Well, not in every way but emotionally and mentally as much as he can and we finally feel like we have our marriage back again.
But the physical side is still there and his needs haven’t changed dramatically to that extent. Our daughter was only 6 months old when he was injured and is now 5 and her needs have changed DRAMATICALLY. We used to joke that they were learning to do the same things and now, she’s so far ahead of him in every way. I realize that this has taken a load off of my shoulders since I no longer have two to care for but I think that it’s put more of a burden on me since I hate thinking that he would feel bad about it or himself. I go out of my way to make sure that he feels like he’s an equal in every way. and by doing this, I put myself last.
As a caregiver, this is the worst thing I could do for myself and for my husband. I forget that HE can do things himself. He can speak up for himself. He can tell me how to do things or tell OTHERS how to do things. I get so angry at people who treat him like a child sometimes and it turns out that some days, I’m the worst offender.
I need to stop thinking that I do things the best way and I need to let my husband speak up for himself. Only he knows the best way. and maybe by doing that, it will give me more time for myself. Instead of worrying about him and doing things for him, I’ll worry about me. maybe.